Confronting Urban vs. Rural Prejudices

True. Where I live, we mine calcium carbonate which is used in many, many products. We manufacture drywall and Doritos. Continental Cement is nearby, and they like to remind people they produced the cement for the Empire State Building, the Panama Canal, and more recently the Minnesota Vikings’ football stadium and the St. Louis Cardinals’ baseball stadium. People in rural areas mine minerals and metals, drill for petroleum, cut lumber, and generally provide the materials the corporations in bigger cities use for making their products and profits. Wealth concentrates in cities (mostly in the hands of a few), but the infrastructure has to be there in rural areas to generate the raw materials.

Rural people aren’t just sitting on their butts while their communities suck up other peoples taxes. Maybe if rural workers had higher pay, rural areas would generate more tax revenue and appear more self-sustaining, and urbanites could have lower taxes. However, that could also make the costs of finished goods be higher and city dwellers prices could go up.

I think the people to be angry with are the super-rich who disproportionately suck up all the money, and set up one group of the non-rich to hate another group of the non-rich, and vice versa.

That is a huge issue and one that gets brought up a LOT here–that our cops don’t even LIVE in the city, they just commute in, take a giant shit all over the neighborhoods we live in then swan off home. If they lived here they’d have a lot harder time acting the way they do because they’d have a hard time getting served at a local diner or bar if they were fresh from shooting someone’s kid or beating the fuck out of the owner’s spouse at a demonstration. Cops nationwide are more likely than average to be white supremacists or sympathizers and they like to live where the rest of those shitbirds live so it feels all comfy for them. I say fuck that, you wanna work here, live here.

Many rural towns near me require police officers to live in their town or within x number of miles, or the sheriff’s department requires the deputies to live in the county. Where I work, juvenile detention officers are required to live in Illinois, and therefore can’t live 20 minutes away in Missouri.

On urban/rural as a broad issue, the fable of the country mouse vs. the city mouse dates all the way back to Aesop. The Bible contains a lot of passages where pastoralists are exalted, while one of the greatest cities of antiquity, Babylon, is portrayed as “the Great Whore”. If limiting ourselves only to the USA, right from the start there was antagonism between the Jeffersonian vision of the “yeoman farmer” as the cornerstone of the society vs. the merchants and bankers.

So it’s not something we’re going to get over quickly.

I live in a fairly urban area, a suburb very close to Seattle. I’ve worked in Seattle for more than a decade added up, and I work in Tacoma now. I’m pretty familiar with the city in this area. In my experience, the cities in the Puget Sound area are like a beautiful person with herpes; lovely most of the time, but every once in a while there is a flareup. When that happens, the area absolutely becomes a hotbed of anarchy and rioting. This year is the worst I have seen, though we’ve had some bad moments, like the Mardis Gras riot of 2001 (at that time I worked at 1st and Yesler where the worst of the riot occurred, though I wasn’t there for the riot luckily). A couple years before there was the infamous Battle of Seattle.

This year, though, we even had riots coming into the suburbs for the first time. There were days when we were warned not to go outdoors, or at least to stay out of certain parts of town. It was ugly.

That’s not everyday life though. There are places where you probably don’t ever want to go in the middle of the night by yourself, but overall things are nice around here. But it’s always the bad incidents that make the news.

Pretty common, actually. Me too. I’m even a farmer.

The only subsidy I get is a couple of hundred dollars a year back on my organic certification paperwork; which costs as much as it does because the USDA took it over and so now the certification system needs to pay the salaries of a batch of people who live in big cities.

And no, I’m not saying “pretty common” just because there’s two of us. This area, though overall quite red, supports a really lively progressives group. And I’ve run into plenty of progressives and left radicals living out in the country in all sorts of places and in multiple states.

[quote=“Retzbu_Tox, post:1, topic:924916”] I don’t know that my neighbors think of cities as “hellscapes”. Rural people go there all the time to attend concerts, shop, visit the zoo, etc. They see value in cities, they just don’t choose to live there.

And the city people come out here to vacation. As they do to lots of other rural areas.

That’s funny. I pay a tax on mine to subsidize other peoples’. Maybe yours, I’ve no idea. (I bet you’re getting better service than I am, though.)

We’ve been losing farms in this country for well over a hundred years, no matter what party claims to be in charge.

I’m finding it fascinating that people are doing this entire discussion without any mention of the basic fact: the correlation between rural counties, lack of minorities, and conservatism. You don’t have to ascribe active racism to explain this. It’s just a basic sociological fact that cities are cosmopolitan and diverse, and this contributes to acceptance of more types of people. Again, this doesn’t eliminate group racism, which is endemic in cities, but - the big but - is that the crush of cultures creates acceptance over time among individuals because they see each others’ lives. They work together, they shop together, they listen to the same music. The schools are full of languages and religions. They eat each others’ foods and buy each others’ fashions. American society is built entirely upon the mishmash of cultures fostered in cities.

None of this happens in rural areas because none of this is possible. Rural areas are predominantly white, predominantly protestant - and only a few sects even there, and predominantly conservative. Diversity threatens them because diversity creates change and change is threatening because it’s unfamiliar and comes out of alien actors. If change doesn’t emerge organically from inside then it will be fought tenaciously.

None of these actions on either side are inherently bad, wrong, evil, or unexpected. They emerge out of different sets of facts and experiences. But reality says the totality that is America is diverse, racially, socially, culturally, religiously, politically.

Only diversity can represent the whole of America. White protestant conservatism can’t credibly claim to lack of representation. Cosmopolitan minorities, however, historically have been greatly under-represented. If rural areas are resentful that their values are being shortchanged, imagine the resentment built up over hundreds of years of being ignored. And the numbers show that which side is the true minority has flipped. Now the majority are demanding their due. For me, that makes it impossible to deny that they have the better claim.

The Senate gives rural states disproportionate power. Wyoming doesn’t “deserve” under any sense of the word to have the same power as the world’s sixth largest GDP, i.e. California. That’s like Vanuatu having a permanent veto on the UN Security Council. Yet because of rural political and cultural power, the largess of the country flows down from the culturally diverse cities and coastal regions into the sparsely populated open lands in the middle. It has to end.

So as a slight aside, I have some ignorance that Retzbu_Tox maybe able to help me fight.

I’m a regular listener to NPR and various other media sources that probably cater more towards educated left leaning audiences, and they periodically have segments where they bemoan the awful partisanship that has arisen in our country and argue that was is really needed is to have a dialogue between the two sides where everyone can come together, share their viewpoints and come to an understanding. This is usually followed by a segment where a few token Republicans and liberals are interviewed along with and equal number of Democrats and they express their opinions in a safe space., and possibly get a better understanding of each other. Meanwhile there are feature articles where the reporter goes to a rural town and talks to a bunch of Trump supporters to try and convey to the readers what Trump supporters are thinking.

The thing that strikes me about all of these is that they seem all be instigated by those on the left. As far as I can tell there is no effort by those on the right to start a dialogue to really understand what is going on in the mind of a black lives matter supporter, what in the life of a college student would make him want to support a socialist like Bernie Sanders. Nor do I feel as though there is the same desire to come back together as a country.

Now since I am somewhat confined within my left wing media bubble I may be totally wrong about this, which is why I’m hoping that Retzbu_Tox, as someone who is willing to dialogue but is also presumably in contact with a lot of those on the right of the spectrum, can provide his impressions. But it seems to be that all of the calls for working out our differences are really coming from just one side, and its going to take two to Tango.

Bringing this back to the OP, I think a lot of what is coming up in the posts that Retzbu_Tox was complaining about is the uneveness of the the fact that Liberals are told that they need to make the effort to understand conservatives, but there appears to be no effort made by conservatives to understand liberals.

So why only blame the Democrats now?

I’m not.

I don’t mean you specifically. I didn’t think you personally had been losing farms for well over a hundred years. But take a look at the electoral map, the Republicans aren’t getting blamed.

There are places near me that I wouldn’t go in the middle of the night either. Gangs, crime, and violence exist in smaller communities, too. A teen that I knew from work was killed last year. Someone had restrained him with duct tape, stuffed him in a sleeping bag, suffocated him to death, and dumped him in a ditch on the edge of town. I was shocked. It seemed really cold and deliberate and brutal. They caught the killer a few months later, but I never did hear what instigated the whole thing.

Two small groups got in a drug or gang-related dispute a couple of weeks ago and had a running gun battle downtown, with 30+ shots fired. The police think they apprehended everyone who had been involved. It may be the first time something like that has happened here.

I’m not aware of anything I would consider to be a riot ever occurring where I live.

True generally in the North. I think very often not true in the South.

I doubt that the reason is that the Democrats specifically are being blamed for the loss of farms.

Cities are richer than rural areas. They have been for thousands of years. Liberalism’s number one goal is to tax money from the rich to give to the poor. Since rural areas are poorer they get more tax money spend on them proportionally. This is what liberals voted for. The bad part seems to be that rural Americans then have the temerity to think for themselves and vote their own interests and values instead of their betters in the city,

Farming subsidies, paved roads, electric and gas power, sewage lines, running water, public schools, colleges, land line telephone and mobile telephone service, internet, cable television. Rural areas would have little or none of these things or would have to pay astronomical prices without subsidies from urban areas and federal and state mandates.

We pay for your entire lives.

Non-metropolitan areas, as the census calls them, are predominantly white everywhere.

It is true that counties in the South are more likely to have black populations and counties along the west Texas border to have Hispanic populations (see › publications › 10597_page7
) but they are each about 8% of non-metropolitan areas.

The federal government subsidises medical students on condition that they spend a certain number of years in rural areas, otherwise they wouldn’t have any doctors. Hospitals are subsidised.

Rural areas disproportionately use social subsidies such as disability benefits and subsidised social services of all kinds.

Without urban people to prop up rural life, small town America would cease to exist.

Agriculture would be done kite efficiently with mega corporations and migrant workers. We have no economic need fir family farmers.

Ah, so you just have to threadshit. What a worthless turd you have pinched out here.

The Mississippi River defines the Illinois-Missouri border. The towns right along the river, on either side, both have majority white and minority black populations. If you travel into Missouri, you find the same population mix in the small towns. For some reason, and I have no idea why, the small towns deeper into Illinois are just white, white, white. The college town I grew up in also had a small Asian population, mostly due to service members who married overseas and returned home, sometimes even with stepkids. The black families in the community faced some racism, but the Asian kids didn’t seem to have any problems. An old guy named Skeeter who lived down the block from me had been stationed in or near Japan in the 1950’s. He loved Japan. His house was full of Japanese art and furniture he bought and had shipped home. I think to some extent that prejudice was extended to those you grew up learning to have a bias against, but the Asian kids were new and escaped that predisposition. My friend Trung and my brother married sisters, so my brother has half-Vietnamese nephews. My cousin Tommy is half-Japanese, and was one of the most popular kids in school. One of my cousins married a guy who is black, and part of my mom’s family had a total meltdown.

I’ve read articles debating the personality traits that are more common to Liberals as compared to the traits of Conservatives. Conservatives may often be far more likely to unquestionably accept what they are told by those they see as authority figures. If a parent, a teacher, a minister, a book, or a political
figure that they respect or identify with tells them what to think, that’s what they think. It’s harder for them to see outside their bubble. If a con man tells them that he is one of them and Liberals are pedophiles who drink babies blood, they are more likely to believe it and their bubble reinforces it, and they don’t need a Liberal to tell them what Liberals think, because it does not occur to them as easily that their chosen authority figure might be wrong, or might be a liar about what Liberals think. I can’t get far in trying to talk to a lot of Conservatives, my mother included. They already have their opinions made up by those who told them what to think, and they only want to listen to people who reinforce those views. I think Liberals can get trapped in a bubble of tribalism, too, but have an easier time breaking out.

This is a good point, I’ve wondered the same too. My best guess is that it’s because conservatives think they already know why liberals think the way they do, because most media coverage is liberal, or liberal goals tend to be more overt - it’s not hard to see why a black person would support Black Lives Matter, for instance - quite obvious (although it might be worth questioning why a white person does) - or why a young student would support socialism or Bernie-ism.